Leadership is a worthy goal. Leaders are pioneers – people who seek out new opportunities and are willing to change the status quo.
Leadership that gets results was the theme of a 16-week self-help curriculum recently offered at San Quentin. After completing the course, 52 participants graduated on Feb. 13, 2014.
Atik Pathan, the group facilitator said, “The mission of the Exploring Leadership and Improving Transitional Effectiveness (E.L.I.T.E.) group is to assist individuals in their personal growth and development with emphasis on five core elements”.
Purpose, inclusion, empowerment and ethics are co-mingled into a process that is made relevant to every day principles.
In the interview, Pathan explained, “Our goal is to establish an effective leadership program at San Quentin through a rigorous curriculum and workshop that transforms the individual’s thinking and behavior, transitioning him to society more effectively.”
In addition, “We work closely with other leadership and behavior modification programs that are incorporated in our leadership paradigm,” Pathan said.
The program wants its participants to:
Understand major concepts of emotional intelligence [definition: the ability to maintain relationships using self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills.]
- Use leadership and emotional intelligence assessment to gauge an individual’s leadership potential for strengths and weakness
- Value diversity among individuals and along multifaceted dimensions
- Discuss ethics, values and social responsibility
- Enhance communication and negotiations skills
- Enhance personal leadership and team skills
- Design group activities that integrate principles of interpersonal communication, managerial skills and leadership through emotional intelligence
- Understand the unique aspects of leadership
The program’s curriculum is modeled from the Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Applied Psychology.
There are four fundamental concepts that participants must incorporate throughout the 16-week program include Self-Awareness, Self Management, Social Awareness and Social Skills.
“We endeavor to inculcate in men the concept of leadership as a societal obligation based on the concept of service to one’s family and community. In addition, these unique skill sets can be used to create transformational leaders who can transition effectively to society at large and act as agents of moral and ethical values,” Pathan explained.
When asked about E.L.I.T.E. and what he got out of the 16-week program, Roosevelt R. Johnson Jr. said, “One of the many lessons I learned is no matter what one’s destiny, goals, or agenda in life, be as knowledgeable about it as possible.”
John E. Colbert, another recent graduate said, “For me, honestly, the self-evaluation versus the evaluation of friends and observers, in relationship to how I see myself as a person, had an enormous impact on my life.”
Leaders, who are pioneers, will innovate, experiment, and explore ways to improve the organization. Pathan said, “They treat mistakes as learning experiences. We want our participants to stay prepared to meet whatever challenges they may confront. The curriculum teaches them to plan projects and break them down into achievable steps, creating opportunities for small wins.”
Colbert said, “Sometimes, as a leader, we have to be silent in order to listen to ourselves, to inspire ourselves and others by being concerned and not indifferent, being kind and compassionate, but being firm, honest and patient.”
Al-amin Davis McAdoo enjoyed the Relationship Leadership Model. “This was most helpful in my development stage of becoming a good leader. While in the process of developing into a leader, commitment must be present within us and the willingness to take actions by identifying our goals and what we intend to accomplish.”
Andre Batten told Pathan “Before taking this class, my understanding of what a leader was, I would say, was warped and misguided. I felt through influences of others, that a leader had to always be firm, leading with an iron fist; that whatever the leader said was law, heard and followed without the need of seeking any advice from others that was part of the establishment.”
According to Hesselbein & Shineski, co-authors of the Relational Leadership Model, “Leaders promote learning in at least three ways: through their own learning on a personal level, by helping others in their units [organizations] learn, and by shaping and contributing to an organizational culture that promotes learning.”
Thomas “Shakur” Ross, the Executive Clerk of E.L.I.T.E. and a two time participant in this self-help program, said, “This program has enhanced my communication and listening skills. “It has given me an opportunity to assess my own self-worth. I am a much more confident leader now.”
Ross is a strong believer in Nelson Mandela’s Eight Lessons of leadership. One of Mandela favorite parables described how he loved to reminisce about his boyhood and his lazy afternoons herding cattle. He would say, “You can only lead them from behind.”
”E.L.I.T.E. has given me an awareness of personal gratification and an awareness of self-evaluation that I apply to my own personal leadership skills,” said Ross.
Contact the Muslim Chapel for additional information.